Smart motorways action plan

12 March 2020

Commenting on the Government’s evidence stocktake on smart motorways, Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said:

“We know road users are concerned about safety when they think what would happen if they broke down on a motorway with no hard shoulder. So we welcome this package of improvements including more technology to detect breakdowns quickly and for there to be extra effort to spread the word about what to do if you break down.

“We will be pressing Highways England further in two areas. First, to confirm that the M4 smart motorway, between Reading and Heathrow, will have additional safety features from day one. Second, to check that red ‘X’ gantries on all smart motorways are spaced appropriately so they can protect people if something goes wrong.”


Transport Focus is calling for:

  • a commitment that stopped vehicle detection arrangements will be in place on the M4 before it opens as a smart motorway (although Highways England’s design standard now includes stopped vehicle detection, the M4 is being built to an old standard without this technology)
  • a commitment to review whether there are enough gantries on which a red ‘X’ can be displayed to protect road users effectively if they break down
  • real pace in implementation of the measures announced by the Government today.

Transport Focus will shortly carry out new research to further understand road users’ views about all-lane running smart motorways, building on its previous work – Getting to the heart of smart and Upgrading the M4 to a smart motorway.

Transport Focus’s new campaign, Sort My Signcalls on road users to report poor road signage (including messages on electronic signs) on the 4300 miles of motorways and major ‘A’ roads managed by Highways England.

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